By Mayor Brian M. Arrigo
Think back some 30 years ago, when Revere joined a growing number of Massachusetts communities to provide curbside collection of recyclable materials. Do you remember the small green or red crates, and how you had to separate paper from metal from glass?
Revere made a major step in the early 2000s when the City switched to ‘single-stream’ recycling. Everyone was provided with a big brown bin, and the days of separating paper from metal from glass were gone. Residents dutifully went about filling their bins, happily playing a role to help the environment. And thanks to the worldwide demand for recyclable materials, recycling haulers actually paid the City for the opportunity to pick up our recyclable materials. Those were the good ol’ days of curbside collection of recyclable materials.
Today, it’s a very different story. Friends, Revere is flunking recycling. Big time. According to information provided by the city’s recycling collector, a full 100 per cent of our recycling bins are contaminated with materials that are not eligible for recycling. That costs the city a lot of money, and the burden falls directly on the taxpayer.
People still want to do right for the environment, and for our City. But over the years, the rules have changed for disposing recyclable materials. So it’s time for a refresher course and a renewed effort to improve our recycling routines.
With the benefit of a $40,000 Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, our Department of Public Works this week began a concentrated program to educate residents and raise our recycling game. When people properly recycle, the cost savings to the City is substantial.
Revere currently pays $79 per ton for the removal of recyclable materials. But when a bin is contaminated with plastic bags, pizza boxes, dirty containers, or non-recyclable material, the cost to dispose it jumps to $105 per ton. Since January alone, Revere has spent $36,224 more than necessary because we have had to pay for the disposal of contaminated recyclable materials. We’ve spent 33 per cent more dollars than we would have spent if only proper materials were contained in the recycling bin.
A major aspect of the recycling education effort will involve inspectors who will fan out across the City on recycling collection days and look inside recycling bins. During the first two weeks of the program, inspectors will place a “Warning” tag on bins that contain non-recyclable items, or items are contained in a plastic bag inside the bin. Hopefully, this will clarify for residents which items are acceptable and which are not.
Beginning July 22, Inspectors who find unacceptable contents of a recycling bin will issue “Ooops” tags, which will specify the unacceptable contents. The recycling bins belonging to repeat offenders will not be collected.
Everyone can play a role in the citywide effort to improve our recycling practices. The City of Revere website, www.revere.org/recycle, contains detailed information about proper recycling methods and actions. And everyone should download the Revere Trash / Street Sweeping App, which provides reminders and answers just about any question you might have about trash collection and street sweeping in your neighborhood.
In the coming weeks, the City will also intensify enforcement of the new trash ordinance which the City Council adopted recently. Improving our recycling habits, and complying with the laws that control trash disposal, will not only help our city look better, it will play a key role in containing the rodent problem.
Revere spends some $3.8 million annually in trash and recycling collection. Residents and taxpayers can help save money, and help keep our city clean by following the simple rules that govern trash and recyclable disposal. The disposal of trash and recyclable materials is probably the most direct way that every resident can play a positive role for our city. Complaining about trash meaningless when we all have the chance to make improvements in the City’s appearance. The good news is that, when it comes to improving our recycling routines, we can only improve. But we have a long way to go.